Being a Finn (from Finland though resident and soon to be citizen of New Zealand) I will try to keep the content of these posts fairly strictly to the subject. Here goes.
Note: This only really applies to SaaS solutions where a customer has not got control of when the SaaS version upgrade takes place.
Shared Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions release cycles, why is this important in my view to the Enterprise customers?
All enterprises I have worked with have a very strong opinion about when they want to perform a software upgrade. The reason for this is often well justified: They want to minimize the potential business interruptions resulting from the upgrade, simple as that.
What kind of business interruptions could happen?
- The way a business process is implemented within the solution has changed
- There is one or more bugs in the new version
- There are integration challenges with the updated version (APIs are not backwards compatible, new interfaces needed to be implemented, etc)
These are all common issues related to upgrades and it would be very difficult to see how SaaS based solutions could somehow overcome these as I would have expected to have seen the same solutions in the traditional installed software space as well.
What really triggered me to think about this area was when a local company who’s SaaS product I am using (as a standalone product mind you) decided to release an upgrade on perhaps the worse date/week of the year.
Though this had very little impact on me I did point this out to the provider who responded with statements like “we do release on a given week day around the year” , “we have a robust test and release process and don’t release bugs into production”.
Well, if I would have been an enterprise customer and would have been provided with answers like that I would have started to quickly look at alternative providers…not a good look.
In any case, I have yet to find an answer to how SaaS providers overcome the traditional challenges of timing releases. Danny, who is a very experienced IT professional focusing on long term strategies for large enterprises stated that he believes enterprises will have to stop caring and simply accept that in the future the software release cycles are fully out of their control.
Perhaps the resulting benefits of the SaaS model will outweigh the issues it brings with it?
If anyone has any suggestions on how this can be best managed then more than happy to have a read and discussion to further my understanding with this.